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Want a healthy baby? Add seafood, apples, eggs and more to your pregnancy diet

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The only nourishment that your baby gets is from the food that you eat. So, for the proper development of the foetus, you must make sure that you follow a well-balanced diet.

Written by Jahnavi Sarma |Published : November 30, 2019 7:02 PM IST

All of us know that proper nutrition is very important for a pregnant woman. In fact, nutrition becomes important even before a woman conceives. It prepares your body for pregnancy and makes it strong, fit and ready to take on the stress of carrying a baby in your womb. The importance of nutrition goes up once you conceive. Remember that the only nourishment that your baby gets is from the food that you eat. So, for the proper development of the foetus, you must make sure that you follow a well-balanced diet. This is also the time, when you have to avoid certain foods in your pregnancy diet.

A research funded by the Wellcome Trust says that mothers who eat an unhealthy diet during pregnancy may be putting their children at risk of developing long term, irreversible health issues including obesity, raised levels of cholesterol and blood sugar. The study, carried out in rats, suggests that the effect is even more pronounced in female offspring. Another follow-up study in The Journal of Physiology says that a mother's diet has an effect lasting beyond adolescence in the rats. This was true even when the offspring were taken off the junk food, affecting how their bodies metabolise the food and suggesting a long term health impact.

Mom's diet may give a baby ADHD

According to researchers from Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), risk of a child developing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be modulated by the mother's diet during pregnancy. Researchers came to this conclusion after looking at samples of umbilical cord plasma to quantify the levels of omega-6 and omega-3 that reach the foetus. The analysis show a higher omega-6:omega-3 ratio to be associated with a higher risk of ADHD symptoms at seven years of age. The Journal of Pediatrics published this study.

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Researchers say that omega-6 and omega-3 are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that play a crucial role in the function and architecture of the central nervous system, particularly during the later stages of gestation. These two fatty acids compete for incorporation into cell membranes and are primarily obtained through diet. Since omega-6 and omega-3 have opposing physiological functions -- the former promotes systemic pro-inflammatory states, while the latter promotes anti-inflammatory states -- a balanced intake of these two fatty acids is important. Previous research had shown that children with ADHD symptoms have a higher omega-6:omega-3 ratio.

Eat choline-rich foods to boost baby's brain

According to researchers from Cornell University, when expectant mothers consume sufficient amounts of the nutrient choline during pregnancy, their offspring gain enduring cognitive benefits. Choline is found in egg yolks, lean red meat, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts and cruciferous vegetables. Researchers say that this nutrient has many functions, but this study focused on its role in prenatal brain development. They used a rigorous study design to show cognitive benefits in the offspring of pregnant women who daily consumed close to twice the currently recommended amount of choline during their last trimester. The FASEB Journal published this study.

Seafood during pregnancy improves attention in children

Another study from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) highlights the importance of eating a diet rich in lean and fatty fish during the first months of pregnancy. Researchers studied the relationship between the consumption of various types of seafood during pregnancy and attention capacity in children at eight years of age. They saw that that eating a seafood-rich diet during early pregnancy is associated with better attention outcomes in children. The International Journal of Epidemiology published this study.

Apples during pregnancy may reduce risk of asthma

According to researchers from the American Thoracic Society, women who eat apples and fish during pregnancy may reduce the risk of their children developing asthma or allergic disease. The study found that the children of mothers who ate the most apples were less likely to ever have wheezed or have doctor-confirmed asthma at the age of 5 years, compared to children of mothers who had the lowest apple consumption. Children of mothers who ate fish once or more a week were less likely to have had eczema than children of mothers who never ate fish. This study by researchers from University of Aberdeen, UK, did not find any protective effect against asthma or allergic diseases from many other foods, including vegetables, fruit juice, citrus or kiwi fruit, whole grain products, fat from dairy products or margarine or other low-fat spreads.

Fish oil supplement in gestating mother's diet reduces risk of allergies in babies

In one of the largest ever research reports of how a pregnancy diet affects a baby's allergy and eczema risk, scientists from Imperial College London assessed over 400 studies involving 1.5 million people. Researchers saw that when pregnant women took a daily fish oil capsule from 20 weeks pregnant, and during the first three to four months of breastfeeding, risk of egg allergy in the child came down by 30 per cent.

They also saw that taking a daily probiotic supplement from 36-38 weeks pregnant, and during the first three to six months of breastfeeding, reduced the risk of a child developing eczema by 22 per cent. The journal PLOS Medicine published this study. But researchers did not find any evidence that avoiding potentially allergenic foods such as nuts, dairy and eggs during pregnancy made a difference to a child's allergy or eczema risk.

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